Astros stay in the win column

McCullers Jr. returns to the mound as Astros start 2-0 against the Mariners

Photo by Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

With the first game and win under their belt, the Astros went back to work on Saturday against the Mariners in Houston. They worked behind Lance McCullers Jr., making his return to the mound after missing the 2019 season recovering from Tommy John surgery. McCullers would put together a strong start, and Houston's offense continued to stack up runs en route to the win and a 2-0 record.

Final Score: Astros 7, Mariners 2.

Record: 2-0, first in the AL West.

Winning pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-0, 3.00 ERA).

Losing pitcher: Taijuan Walker (0-1, 13.50 ERA).

Houston strikes first and builds an early lead

In the bottom half of the first inning, the Astros wasted no time at the plate, getting a one-out walk by Jose Altuve, who moved to second on a single by Alex Bregman, then scored on an RBI-single by Michael Brantley, grabbing a quick 1-0 lead.

Yuli Gurriel made his first hit of 2020 an impressive one, crushing a ball in the bottom of the fourth for a solo home run to extend the lead to 2-0. Later in the same inning, Kyle Tucker would end Taijuan Walker's day with an RBI-double to make it 3-0, and Martin Maldonado added two more on a two-RBI double to push the lead to 5-0.

McCullers Jr. provides six strong innings

Lance McCullers Jr. struggled with his command early in the game, starting in the top of the first loading the bases after a double and two walks. He would get a much-needed double play to end the threat, keeping the game scoreless. He had more traffic in the second inning but again was able to induce groundballs to keep the lead. His first clean inning came in the third as he was able to settle in, though in the top of the fifth, George Springer made a nasty collision with the center-field wall going after a fly ball, which resulted in a leadoff triple.

The Mariners turned that into a run with a sacrifice groundout, but McCullers Jr. would follow that with two strikeouts to end the frame. In the bottom of the fifth, Carlos Correa made it a five-run lead again with an RBI-single to bring the score to 6-1. McCullers Jr. would complete the sixth inning, even after allowing a solo home run to trim the lead to 6-2, leaving in position for the win. His final line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 1 HR.

Houston's bullpen wraps things up again

After the scary impact with the wall earlier, Springer must have felt just fine, launching a two-out dinger in the bottom of the sixth to make it 7-2. In the top of the seventh, another Astro made their major-league debut, this time Cristian Javier out of the bullpen. Javier worked around a one-out single for a scoreless inning of work.

Cy Sneed took over on the mound in the eighth, and he was able to work around a one-out double by striking out three Mariners. Still 7-2 after eight, Roberto Osuna made his 2020 debut in the top of the ninth after being labeled as questionable to take part in this series after a slow progression in Summer Camp. Osuna was able to put an end to the game, throwing a scoreless inning to move the Astros to 2-0 on the early season.

Up Next: Game three of this four-game set will be on Sunday at 1:10 PM Central at Minute Maid Park. The pitching matchup will be Yusei Kikuchi on the mound for Seattle, going opposite of Zack Greinke for Houston. Greinke will be making his first meaningful start since Game 7 of the 2019 World Series.

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Keep an eye on Alex Bowman this weekend. Image via: Wiki Commons.

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